Fauci and Birx tell different versions of White House stories as attention-hungry egos clash

(Video: CNN)

Dr. Deborah Birx joined CNN to promote her new book and malign former President Donald Trump over the weekend, but her claims are being questioned as revisionist history, even by Dr. Anthony Fauci.

While being interviewed by CNN’s Jim Acosta Saturday, an excerpt of Birx’s book, “Silent Invasion: The Untold Story of the Trump Administration, Covid-19, and Preventing the Next Pandemic Before It’s Too Late,” was brought up that presented a volatile exchange with former Vice President Mike Pence. Acosta presented a choice paragraph that also included Coronavirus Task Force member and former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield.

“[Fauci] had encouraged me to take on the vice president,” Acosta read, “but while I was being yelled at, he didn’t intervene. I had a very hard time reconciling myself with what I felt was a lack of support from [Fauci] and [Redfield] in that moment. I still respected them both, but I continued to puzzle over their lack of engagement in that moment.”

Even Acosta said that he was surprised by Birx’s account having had many conversations himself with Fauci. However, she defended her claim and went on, “You know, I think if you talk to the people in the White House, the communication team and the people who were in the task force, the people who are in the Oval Office, they’ll tell you that – and this is one of the reasons I stayed – that the only person that pushed back on the president when he would say these things was me. That was my job.”

Acosta was certain to bring the exchange up in conversation with Fauci the following day during a CNN interview where, in addition to saying he’d never work with Trump again, Fauci denied having ever been anything but fully supportive of Birx, “Behind the scenes, in front of the camera, I always have been very supportive of Dr. Birx…not sure what she was referring to there.”

Since she had decried Dr. Scott Atlas during the interview as well, it’s worth noting that in his book, “A Plague Upon Our House: My Fight at the Trump White House to Stop COVID From Destroying America,” he presents a less than glamorous image of Birx.

Atlas suggested hers was the only volatile temperament in the administration when he recounted an incident in the Oval Office following a discussion on testing. Trump had asked Birx if she agreed with Atlas that testing should be focused on those most at risk and she responded, “Yes, I think so.”

He then sought clarity from Atlas asking, “Scott, is that true?”

“No, she doesn’t agree. Dr. Birx thinks we should be testing healthy, asymptomatic people…And even if exposed people test negative, they still need to be quarantined,” he replied in part.

After the president left the meeting, Atlas wrote, “We all stood to leave. It felt very tense, but there was zero chance I would lie to the president of the United States. He asked me a direct question, and I answered it truthfully. There was no dilemma, no choice in my mind. Birx apparently felt otherwise. She threw a fit, right there, in front of everyone, as we stood near the door before leaving the Oval Office. She was furious, screaming at me, “NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!! AND IN THE OVAL!!”

“Sorry, but he asked me a question,” Atlas responded, “so I answered it.”

As he recalled, “Birx had one game plan, and she stuck to it, regardless of the evidence of failure.”

Birx touted her relationship with the governors and other leaders with Acosta, but Atlas suggested that she forced herself into those connections, “She and she alone was the representative of the Task Force to the governors and local officials from coast to coast, and her written words were the official advice from the White House.”

Furthermore, on Pence, Atlas said the vice president was nothing but professional: “Dr. Birx, in particular, seemed to adore working with the vice president. She glowed from his every compliment. Always positive and professional, he handed her many.”

While Birx would later go on to criticize Trump’s abilities to handle a future pandemic if he were reelected, Atlas also noted the reality was that while the president sought targeted responses, she was after sweeping measures.

“And because her policies were those that were enacted on the ground, the success or failure of the pandemic management must necessarily rest on her policies, not on those who criticized what was enacted. Period,” he said.

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